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25 FEB

Lessons from Older Clients

Lessons from Older Clients

Recently, my name was passed on by a good past client of mine to visit the home of a couple who are thinking of selling. The reason for selling was they were not using the property anymore. She had a rare disease and was wheelchair bound. There were some scuff marks from the wheelchair in the house that needed to be painted. Some friends were not socializing with them as much anymore. He thinks it’s for fear that it’s a reminder that this could happen to them. What a profound thought and how admirable to not be bitter at that. He looked at the positives of their great life and considered how they will adjust to life’s curveballs. Maybe if they were not as happy or had unresolved issues, sadness and anger would be paramount.  It’s a lesson to stay positive, and understand what others are feeling and not be angry at them. And for Seniors themselves to stick with friends more when uncomfortable situations happen to their friends.

It reminded me of why I got into real estate in the first place. I’ve always liked hanging out with older people and appreciated the lessons you learn from them.  I’d like to share a few….

Some of this came from my own Grandparents.

My Grandpa Irving always got lost on the way to Chin’s Chop Suey. Grandpa Irving and my Grandma Rosetta would come out each Sunday. We would watch the Bears game (he always turned the game off with 2 minutes left as they were that bad) and then we would pick up the Chinese Food.  I was the navigator. We then ate at our house, and I was sad when they left.  But once you hit 12 years of age, kids want to be with their friends and I was no different.  When I was 14, I realized things changed and I asked my Grandpa to sleep over and come with me to the White Sox playoff game against the Orioles.  He did and we took the train to the South Side of Chicago. We sat in Row Z behind the pole in right field. Our view was of the bullpen and Jerry Koosman warming up as the Sox lost 12-1.  My Grandpa Irving died 4 years later during my Freshman year of college. I was glad I had gone to that bad game with him.

My Senior year of college I decided to do spring break with my Grandpa Gerald and Grandma Harriet in California. I figured I would be entering the workforce in a few months, and this was it as far as quality uninterrupted time.  I’m glad I did.  As a kid you have limited time to meet older people.  Then you just have the memories of them to talk to in your head. My Grandpa Gerald died 2 years later. It’s important to fill those memories up before it’s too late. I have so many memories that I can still have conversations with him today in my head.

Residential real estate in South Florida gives one lots of time to connect with older people.  Customer service businesses have interaction with the consumer but most are at a cursory level.  Waitstaff are with the client for an hour or so.  A salesperson in a retail outlet usually less.  All sorts of other businesses from financial planners, bankers to even lawyers and doctors have only so much consumer contact.

A real estate agent other than a caretaker might be the most intimate job in a home setting.  Plus, when you are in a home, you see people with their guard down and relationships can become close as the process is also a stressful and an emotional one.

Older people in general have it great and not so great.  The hustle has slowed down and they do enjoy the finer points of life. Florida offers it all with lots of friends who want to socialize and enjoy playtime from golf to great dinners. Aging though is tough and has difficult challenges.

One past client of mine has a husband with dementia. Her husband was brilliant and I always got together with both of them for lunch or dinner each year.  Now, it’s just she who comes down. I listen to how she deals with some tough family situations and takes care of him  She sees the humor in crazy situations that would at times make anyone cry.  It’s just classy how she conducts herself and an example of how to act when life doesn’t always turn out as you want it to.

A few years ago I sold a home of a longtime client who at 91 had all sorts of the latest technology.  I asked him if he was always like that. He said, “always”!  Another reminder to always stay young and don’t get stuck in your old ways.  You can always be a kid if you keep your mind young.

Another past client, a more older couple, were going to assisted living. She was in bad shape with her legs. He didn’t hold out for every penny. My instructions were not to lose a deal if the Buyer was a good one to work with and he didn’t want to do any staging because he wanted his wife to feel comfortable and not be stressed out. Getting the most money for the house was not the #1 goal. My goal has always been whatever my client’s goal was. This was a good reminder to take it slow with people and listen carefully to goals.  I have always taken extra care to talk to people about stress since then. Moving is terribly stressful and it can even cause illness as some older people can’t handle stress the way they used to. I always recommend solutions including having others help with packing and slowing the process down. Seniors at times need reminding to be aware of that stress so they don’t overly stress themselves out and remember to ask for help.

Others have never taken care of the bills or made bigger financial situations when a spouse passes or gets ill are thrust into difficult situations.  Sometimes I deal with wonderful kids as people lose confidence in themselves. Other times, I see kids be too impatient with their parents. Kids need a reminder if involved to be patient with their folks and not talk down to them even when frustrated.

Downsizing because of changes in life are scary for anyone let alone Seniors, when a big life event occurs. The ones who handle best know that the memories of that home always stay with them. While it does mark an emotional transition, the positives of a smaller place (less to clean as my Mom would say), less stress, and new memories/adventure is a common thread I see among people who are happiest in life.  Keep your most treasured items and when in doubt throw it out (another Mom saying)!

Illness, loss of memory, and death are all part of life.  Some of my great past clients have taught me so much on how to conduct ourselves with kindness, humility, understanding, and a positive frame of mind. These are important reminders and lessons that I thought were worth sharing.


Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet.  Some publications he has been quoted in.

Feel free to ask him a question directly at jeff@EchoFineProperties.com including a complimentary real valuation of your home.

Posted in Open House Blog, Real Estate Tips on February 25, 2023 at 5:30 am.


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